Jonathan Dolby :
Remember car service as well as carol service this Christmas
Jonathan Dolby :
With the festive season fast approaching, there is nothing more certain to spoil your Christmas cheer than your car breaking down, so don’t forget to look after it!
Advice issued today by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) says that booking your car in for its regular service, particularly at this time of year, will not only improve its reliability, safety and environmental performance but also significantly protect its re-sale or trade-in value. Many garages also offer a ‘winter check’ of a vehicle’s fluid levels, anti-freeze, brakes and tyres, sometimes for free.
The advice from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the professional body for individuals working in the motor industry is that regular servicing of your vehicle will not only improve its reliability, safety and environmental performance but also protect its re-sale or trade-in value. Owners of vehicles over three years old should not rely purely on the annual MOT, which is both a false economy and potentially dangerous. A vehicle’s service history can not only boost its value but also make the difference between a desirable and completely unwanted car. The absence of a service history may knock £500 or more off a car’s value or, even worse, put off potential buyers completely.
The IMI advises motorists to ensure their car is maintained by qualified professionals. Modern vehicles have sophisticated electronic systems and such technology demands a high level of technical knowledge and expertise, so it is paramount that your vehicle is entrusted to safe hands.
The Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) scheme, the UK’s only national voluntary assessment system for technicians, has over 6,000 technicians accredited since launching in June 2005. Governed by the IMI, ATA is the national benchmark of competence for technicians, who are working on increasingly complex vehicles.
To achieve ATA status, technicians must pass a series of practical tasks and an on-line knowledge test. Accredited technicians are issued with a unique photo identity card and are listed on an internet register. They must be re-assessed after five years to maintain their credentials. ATA is backed by the Government, consumer organisations and all major vehicle manufacturers and leading independent service and repair chains.
Commenting on Automotive Technician Accreditation, Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive, said:
“ATA clearly identifies proven current competence, which is as important to consumers as it is to businesses seeking qualified technicians. The level of support within the motor industry would suggest that at least 50% of businesses involved in vehicle servicing and repair nation-wide will be actively supporting ATA within the next three years.”
You can search for your nearest ATA technician online at www.automotivetechnician.org.uk or by telephone on 01992 511521.
To give motorists peace of mind, the IMI has a list of ‘top tips’ when it comes to getting your car service.
IMI TOP TEN TIPS ON CAR SERVICING
1. Check if the garage employs ATA technicians and/or IMI members, who all possess a membership card to show they are suitably qualified. Alternatively ask if the business is registered with a Trading Standards scheme.
2. Ensure that the garage is familiar with your car´s make and model.
3. Prior to booking your car in, consider how it´s been running. Be honest – inform the service staff of any problems and/or any recent work carried out.
4. Check what is included within the service - ask to see a copy of the service schedule for your vehicle type.
5. Check the breakdown of costs, including all parts, consumables, labour and VAT - you should know exactly what you are paying for.
6. Insist that no additional work is undertaken without your express permission. If recommended, this should be quoted against, not estimated.
7. Ask for any replaced parts to be retained for your inspection upon collection.
8. Ensure that you receive a detailed itemised report with a verbal explanation of the work undertaken and/or recommended. Ask about the garage’s quality control checks and make sure your service book is stamped.
9. Ensure that the name of the technician that works on your car is detailed on your invoice. Ask to speak to him or her specifically, if you have any concerns or require necessary explanations.
10. Ensure that you receive a guarantee. Make sure you know what it covers, check the period of validity and identify the complaints procedure, should a query arise.